November 29th, 2014| Topic: RaMbLeS | 1


News flash: Conquer temptation by avoiding temptation!

Yup, that’s made the news.

Appropriate, perhaps, for this season, when the temptation to engorge, consume, imbibe, and devour is considerable.

I stand condemned! Rather than having a membership to a gym, I possess one to several bakeries and chocolatiers in town. (And if you haven’t had dulce de leche cheesecake, you’ve missed out on one of the singular pleasures of life!).

Anyhow, back to temptation …

Michael Ent of Florida State University and his coworkers published this thing about conquering temptation by avoiding it in Personality and Individual Differences: “Trait Self-control and the Avoidance of Temptation.”

Apparently, those folks who are good at resisting temptation have a secret weapon: they deliberately avoid situations that put their self-control at risk. These sharp folks minimize their exposure to temptations. Smart!

Ent and his compatriots employed thirty-eight FSU students, aged 18–23 years. Self-control was subjectively rated with a questionnaire that inquired about the students’ discipline. Half were ranked as above average and half below average in matters pertaining to self-control. (Why am I not surprised?)

The test involved solving a puzzle. Participants were given the option of working in a noisy student lounge or in a quiet room elsewhere. 37% of those with a below-average rating on self-control chose the quiet room; 63% chose the noisy one. But of those with above-average self-control, 53% chose the quiet place; only 47% chose the noise location.

This actually played out in another experiment as well, this time with subjects ranging in age from 18 to 60 years. They were asked to take an online IQ test either in a black-and-white version, or in a stylized version that had frequently changing artwork on the sides. 43% of those with less self-control opted for the B&W version; 57% chose the distracting one. But of those who had higher self-control, 67% chose the standard version; only 33% picked the stylized one.

Here’s the conclusion of the researchers:

The present research suggests that high trait self-control is linked to avoiding, rather than merely resisting, temptation. People high in trait self-control reported engaging in behaviors thought to minimize (or avoid) temptation to a greater extent than people low in trait self-control …. People high in trait self-control were more likely than those low in trait self-control to choose to work in a distraction-free environment rather than in a distracting, yet appealing, one ….”

But we knew all this a long time ago.

In fact, in the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, he asked them to say …

“‘And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’”
Matthew 6:13

Not that God leads people into temptation. This is simply a rhetorical way to ask God for protection from temptation. But, of course, God does permit it, while also providing ways to escape it.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man;
and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted
beyond what you are able, but with the temptation
will provide the way of escape also,
so that you will be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

Jesus, after finding his disciples asleep during his last hours on earth, warned them ….

“Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation;
the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Mark 14:38

Part of this watching involves avoiding situations that put us in the power of the Tempter.

Take heart …

Greater is He who is in you [the Holy Spirit]
than he who is in the world [Satan].
1 John 4:4

1 Comment

  1. Luc Ladry December 6, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I had a good laugh when I read about the dulce de leche cheesecake. When I come to DTS, I’ll try to bring you one of those delicacies. In Christ, Luc.


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